The president of the Lanzarote and La Graciosa Chamber of Commerce assures that it is essential to improve training opportunities on the island
- THANKS TO DIGITAL LANCELOT
- JESUS BETANCOURT
-Tell us three challenges you would like to face to improve Lanzarote?
-One of the priority objectives for this new plenary session is to improve the state of our capital. Arrecife has to position itself as a tourist attraction to be at the level of the rest of the towns in Lanzarote. Boost trade, restaurants, improve its infrastructure and take advantage of the seafront, which is of immense value, but not used at all. For this, we need the public sector to do its part and carry out the General Plan for the Reef, among other things.
Another fundamental pillar that we consider is to improve training opportunities on the island. We intend to develop Dual FP plans that respond to the needs of companies, especially in the service sector, where there is a lack of qualified personnel. In addition, training in technological sectors that allow the advancement and diversification of the economy must be included.
The third challenge is to manage the projects very well so that when the Next Generation funds arrive, Lanzarote benefits and we can consolidate the economic recovery, after the setback we have experienced with the pandemic.
Finally, I would add that it is essential to make a great reflection on our tourism model. We must redesign the offer to increase income without increasing the number. That tourism be the engine of other sectors of the local economy, such as gastronomy, kilometer zero, crafts and our culture. Promote shared value.
-Economically, where would you say Lanzarote is?
-We have just come out of the biggest economic crisis in our history with a 28% drop in GDP, due to the great dependence on tourism. However, today Lanzarote begins to recover its stability with good prospects for the summer and winter seasons. For this reason, it is the ideal time to make this reflection, to rethink the model we want for Lanzarote.
-What is happening on the island that there are no qualified workers and it is necessary to look for them abroad? What should we do to end this problem?
-Training is the key. On an island where there are no universities and Vocational Training has not been updated at the rate that companies demand it, we are suffering from a significant lack of qualification. There is a deficit throughout the country, especially in the technology sector where there are no specialized workers, but in Lanzarote the shortage covers almost all strategic sectors. For this reason, we will have to put a lot of effort into updating Vocational Training and Dual Vocational Training in order to integrate with the labor market.
-Another added problem on the island is the lack of housing to house those workers who come from outside…
-Lanzarote is experiencing a major housing problem. We are going to have to develop social housing that, today, is scarce. We return here to the previous point of the need to assess our island and tourism model for the coming years. Growing in residents or in tourist beds is not the way, we must stop growth and improve the tourist offer.
-Arrecife continues to be another of the pending subjects. What can be done to promote local commerce that, in areas such as Calle Real, is dying?
-Specialize street trade, based on valuable local products. Not replicating the model of the large multinationals that are already in the shopping malls, but rather developing a specialized, gourmet shop, in which products are offered that cannot be found anywhere else.
-Will the new shopping center come to solve this problem? Will it revitalize the area?
-This shopping center can be an opportunity for Arrecife, but it is essential that we manage to connect the city center with this commercial node in a pleasant way, so that customers stay in Arrecife. We are going to need an integration plan between Calle Real and its surroundings with the new shopping center.
-The Port of Playa Blanca is making good progress, how will it help the island economy?
-It will be an important support for the connections between Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. However, regarding cruise ships, I believe that Arrecife should continue to be the base port, due to location and strategy. This does not mean that Playa Blanca cannot occasionally receive small cruises or boutique cruises, as they are often called.
-In the previous stage great importance was given to the Port of Arrecife. Is it playing the dynamic role that the Port of La Luz can play in Gran Canaria?
-An exceptional job has been done with the port to make it what it is today and this positioning and growth strategy must continue in order to be eligible for the future lines of business that are going to be opened between Africa and the Canary Islands. The archipelago is going to become a connection hub between Africa and Europe and in this context, Lanzarote can choose to be a support for the continent and offer services to the traffic that is going to be generated in this Atlantic corridor. In this context, opportunities linked to the Blue Economy will be generated that will diversify our economy.
-Your predecessor put a lot of effort into promoting FP and the implementation of Dual FP. Will you follow in his footsteps?
-As I have said before, we need to promote training capable of qualifying professionals to multiply our opportunities as an island. One of our strategies is to address it and promote Dual Vocational Training so that this option becomes a benchmark in the Canary Islands. To achieve this, Vocational Training must be separated from the council where the problems of primary and secondary education are managed, otherwise, we will never manage to attend to it as required.
-You talk a lot about looking for quality tourism. Easy to say, but how is it achieved when we have under-equipped or third-world infrastructures in many cases?
-I would not say that we have third-world infrastructures. It is true that there are infrastructures that are beginning to be stressed, but before starting to grow meaningless, we must analyze and reflect on which model we want to go towards: whether to increase the number of beds or to promote quality tourism, based on experience: less figures, more income. Tourism that is aware of the island that comes to visit and that acts accordingly. Perhaps we should reverse the balance between tour operation and direct sales that enhance shared value, enhance the complementary offer and make room for local production. That does not mean that yes, it is true, some infrastructures must be modernized and decongested, especially those that provide day-to-day services to the rabbit society.
– Carrying capacity, sustainable growth and tourism plus… Nice words?
-We have enough story to opt for a tourism different from mass tourism. Lanzarote lives from its environment, its landscape, its uniqueness, just over 42% of the territory is protected and this is what we have to promote, all together.